How Does a Greenhouse Control Conditions?

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How Does a Greenhouse Control Conditions?
Greenhouses use nature and technology to control conditions. (Palmfarne image by Bernd Deinert from Fotolia.com)

A greenhouse is a useful building for gardeners who wish to extend their growing season into the fall or all the way through the winter. Using a combination of the natural principles of a greenhouse in addition to man-made technology, a grower is able to control the conditions of the greenhouse.

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Greenhouse Effect

The greenhouse effect, like the one that controls and influences the atmosphere, plays a major role in greenhouse buildings. The glass or plastic window panels allow light in as heat and then trap it there. This heat circulates throughout the greenhouse building and keeps the temperature warm enough to grow plants in colder weather. Additionally, a greenhouse also traps moisture inside its windows, which provides necessary moisture for the successful growth of many plants.

Windows

Windows and ventilation systems are installed in many larger greenhouses to help control the conditions. During the hottest part of the day and throughout the summer, greenhouses can overheat, which can scorch and kill plants. Opening ventilation windows and using a fan system to disperse heat can reduce the temperature when necessary. Pay attention to the temperature of the greenhouse to avoid expensive and detrimental damage to a crop of plants.

Heating

Many larger greenhouses have an artificial heating system in place for the winter months. During the winter months, shorter days reduce the amount of sunlight and heat that enters a greenhouse. To have a successful winter crop, more heat than nature provides is necessary. Some greenhouses use natural heating systems. An experiment done at Michigan State University showed that attaching a greenhouse to a chicken coop could raise the temperature as much as eight degrees Fahrenheit.

Grow Lights

As with heat, there is not sufficient light to help plants grow during the winter months. Grow lights are used to control the growing conditions of many winter greenhouse plants, such as spinach. Install grow lights over the rows of crops to provide light throughout the day. Grow lights are an important part of controlling greenhouse conditions in the winter, as that is the season in which most intervention is needed to run the greenhouse.

Shades

Summer light can be too intense for some plants, especially exotic plants. Provide these plants with shade by placing them near taller plants or install a system of blinds or shades to cover certain parts of the greenhouse during the day. The greenhouse system allows sunlight in throughout the day, which can be harmful to certain plants. Control this part of the environment to ensure successful growth.

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